Warrnambool’s Luke King is finally coming home from Melbourne after being in hospital since the start of June.
Luke has a rare liver disease and was due to be transferred to the Warrnambool Base Hospital on Wednesday.
He and his mum Leanne Hooton went to Melbourne, expecting to have a short procedure, which would take a couple of days. It turned into more than seven weeks away from family and friends.
Luke was undergoing treatment for primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), a rare, chronic and potentially serious bile duct disease which was diagnosed two years ago.
The Brauer College student is awaiting a liver transplant and will share time between home and hospital locally until a liver becomes available.
It was controlled with medication until just before Christmas when Luke became very jaundiced and unwell. Luke underwent various procedures and spent time at the Royal Children’s Hospital, the Monash Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald House.
The college’s middle school leaders established a Go Fund Me page to help with Luke’s medical costs. By Wednesday afternoon it had reached $1350 of the $2000 goal they’d set.
The fundraiser comes after the middle school leaders and Luke’s friends organised a footy day, which included a sausage sizzle and dress up day, on the last day of term two, raising more than $1800.
Year nine co-ordinator Paul McFadden said the whole year level was buoyed by the news that Luke was to be transferred to the Warrnambool Base Hospital on Wednesday.
He said Luke “desperately” wanted to come home and return to some sort of normality. “Even though he comes home this isn’t the end of it,” Mr McFadden said. “Now he has to wait for a liver and when it comes, a team from Austin Health will take him back to the Royal Childrens’ Hospital. They’ll do the operation. We don’t know how long that will be because they’ve got to monitor him continuously to make sure there’s no rejection, that’s why he’s on the drugs he’s on now.”
He said Luke’s plight had created a greater awareness and empathy among his classmates as he was “one of them”. “Life as a teenager is hard enough without having to worry about your own mortality, but hearing it’s happened to one of your own it casts a shadow that maybe the kids haven’t noticed before. We just want to get him back to school.”
To donate click here or go the the Go Fund Me website and search Liver for Luke.